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Good Dog!

Written by Rabbi Dov Brezak

Rav Elimelech Bidermen in his Be’er Haparsha on Parshas Vaeira 5779 brings the following fascinating story that happened a few years ago: 

It is about one of the Bnei Torah in Bnei Brak. The time came for him to marry off one of his children and he didn’t have any money at all. He had no choice but to go to America and try to raise money for Hachnosas Kalla. Before he left he went to his Rebbi to ask for a brocho. His rebbi blessed him with all his heart and gave him two pieces of advice.

1) To be very careful to keep his Kvius, (his set time) his strong Kvius to learn Torah even though he’s in Chutz La’aretz, in a foreign land. Under all circumstances he should not forgo his learning seder even though he’s in Chutz La’aretz collecting.

2) He should have gratitude and thanks for every donation he receives regardless of the amount. Whether its $500,00, $50,000 or even 5 cents, he should equally thank for any of these amounts.
The Talmid Chochom left on his trip but it did not take him too long to realize that even though he’s gifted and skilled in learning Torah, he’s not skilled in collecting money. From day to day it became harder and harder but he kept to what his Rebbi told him. He made sure to keep learning time and he thanked anyone who gave him anything, even half a dollar.

Towards the end of his trip in America, one of his friends sent him to a place a bit far away from the main area. In this area the people are more wealthy but not Benei Torah. In the beginning not even one person opened the door for him. Finally he reached one house where the owner answered the door , but as the door opened a big dog jumped out and started barking. The Talmid Chochom who was not used to dogs, especially a big dog that was almost as tall as him, ran for his life. While he was running he heard the owner calling him to come back and that he shouldn’t be afraid. The Talmid Chochom came back and the man invited him to come inside. The wealthy man sat down in a comfortable chair, put his feet up , and asked the Talmid Chochom what he wanted. The Talmid Chochom said his house is empty,his son is about to get married, and he doesn’t even have what to begin the wedding with. The wealthy fellow took out a bill of $10, but what happened next is hard to believe. He gave the $10 bill to his dog and told the dog to bring it to the Talmid Chochom. The Talmid Chochom was so humiliated that he felt as if his blood was being spilled. “It’s not enough that he’s giving him such a small amount but he’s giving it through his dog?” But then he remembered what his Rebbi about always thanking for any donation even if it small and humiliating. The Talmid Chochom began thanking and praising the Baal Habayis for is kindliness and blessed him that the merit of his charity should last forever.

He then remembered that just a few hours ago he was learning Gemoro and he learned the Gemoro of “hamegadel kelev ra betoch beiso.”-one who keeps a bad dog in his home. In his broken English he told the wealthy fellow that his dog is a good dog. From the words of the gemoro that say there is a ‘Kelev Ra – a bad dog’ we can deduce that there’s also a good dog! Who’s a good dog? This dog that gives charity to poor people, he’s a good dog! The wealthy fellow thought for a few moments and he asked him for a favor. “Please go to the neighbor next door and tell him what you just told me.” The Talmid Chochom now felt humiliated all over again. Not only did he give me just $10, he also thinks that for his $10 I have to go to work for him telling other people divrei torah. “He’s hiring me to tell his neighbour divrei torah?!’” But he remembered what his Rebbi told him and he knew that if he would have received $500,000 dollars he would do it willingly and so he has to do the same thing for the ten dollars. So he went to the neighbor next door, knocked on the door and there was a jewish person, an older man who answered. The Talmid Chochom began telling him his whole Shtickel Torah (his original Torah thought-literally translated-his piece of Torah). “The gemorro says that a person should not keep a bad dog in his home. And if the gemoro says that there is a bad dog, there’s also a good dog! Which dog is that? That’s the dog of the neighbor next door who gave me Tzedoko”. The words came out of the Talmid Chochom’s mouth and the face of the old man lit up. He said to the Talmid Chochom “Please call my son in law who lives in that house” and he called him to come. The son in law came into the house of the father in law and they embraced. It appeared to be a very emotional moment. The Talmid Chochom had no idea what was going on until the son in law calmed down and explained.

“My father in law is from the old generation. He got very angry with me when I bought this dog and from then he doesn’t talk to me. Until you came and brought a proof from the Gemoro that there’s a good dog. You said that my dog is considered a good dog and therefore he calmed down and the peace has come back between us!”
They were both so happy that together they gave him a check of $18,000! When he came back to Eretz Yisroel he went to his Rebbi and told him what happened. The Rebbi asked him what he learned from this incident?
The Talmid told him “I learned that one should always speak good and have Kavod (respect) for everyone and everything. The Rebbe said “I think that there is another lesson to learn here; namely the power of Kvias Batora, keeping to your set time for leraning Torah. You accepted upon yourself to keep to your Gemoro learning every day and from the heavens they brought about that on that day you should learn the gemorro about dogs. That is what brought you the large donation you received.

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